Digitalsmiths adds social search and recommendations

Over the past several years, Digitalsmiths carved out a sweet spot for itself by providing technology to determine what’s happening in a video moment-by-moment, which can then be used by cable operators or streaming video providers to offer personalized recommendations to viewers. Now it has added social recommendations to its product offering, creating a more comprehensive way for users to search and discover videos from those providers.
Digitalsmiths provides time-based metadata for a number of video providers, allowing them to know moment-by-moment and scene-by-scene what’s happening, which actors are on screen, etc. That allows Digitalsmiths to offer pretty powerful search and recommendations info for movie studios and content aggregators online.
The only thing missing so far has been tying those recommendations to a user’s social graph, and to the publicly available likes and favorites that users have shared on social networks. With the new Social Discovery product, Digitalsmiths’ clients — which include service providers, consumer electronics manufacturers and content owners and distributors — will be able to make recommendations about content that is liked by others in their network and trending on social networks like Twitter. The Social Discovery platform takes into account a number of data inputs, including critics’ reviews, content ratings and social data to provide a more comprehensive view of what users might want to watch.
The addition of social data to the mix also helps move Digitalsmiths beyond just making recommendations for on-demand content, but also gives it the ability to provide real-time recommendations, based on a user’s preferences, as well as whatever others happen to be watching at a given moment in time.
The question is: How good is social data in helping to predict what viewers might want to watch?
Digitalsmith’s CEO Ben Weinberger told me in a phone conversation that there are a number of ways in which people discover new content, whether it be based on personalized recommendations or through social channels — that is, seeing what people are talking about on networks like Twitter and Facebook. What’s important, he said, is being able to offer recommendations based on all those sources, to provide a truly holistic approach. Otherwise, you might not know which data is most valuable in helping viewers select what they want to watch.
But, Digitalsmiths isn’t the only provider hooking into social networks to provide video recommendations: There are apps like Buddy TV and Yap.TV that include social data in making recommendations to viewers. But Digitalsmiths also has all the metadata info to back up its personal recommendations.
Perhaps more importantly, Digitalsmiths offers its recommendations as a white-label offering, meaning that operators could potentially make it a part of their viewers’ set-top box experience, or consumer electronics manufacturers could include it in the top-level guides on their TVs or other connected devices.